photo by Melissa Kania

The Making of Mike Weber

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Right now, a lot of NHL fans know him as “that guy who fought Sidney Crosby.” In reality, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Mike Weber is much more than that. Since joining the Windsor Spitfires for the 2003-04 season, his first in the OHL, Weber has proven himself to be a strong, tough player with grit and skill. Hard work and determination, as well as an ability to move the puck, make Weber a valuable asset to the team. After struggling between AHL and NHL time for several seasons, he’s finally reached the big league, as this upcoming year will be his second full season in the NHL – but how did he get here?

It certainly wasn’t an easy path. Weber, a native of Cranberry, PA, played for the Pittsburgh Jr. B Penguins while he was growing up. He left Pittsburgh at the age of 15 to join the Windsor Spitfires, where he played from 2003-06. In the 2005-06 season, he won the Hardest Shot contest at the Top Prospects Skills competition. During this time, Weber grew up living with Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott and his family in Stoney Point, Ontario.

The hard-working Weber, who received the honor of being named Spitfires captain the prior season, joined the Barrie Colts for 30 games in the 2006-07 season after being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 57th overall in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

His first two seasons of higher-professional hockey were split between NHL and AHL play. In the 2007-08 season, Weber played 59 games for the Rochester Americans of the AHL and suited up for 16 games with the Sabres, including his NHL debut on October 26, 2007 versus the Florida Panthers. He tallied a team-high 178 penalty minutes in that season with the Amerks, and got his first NHL point in the form of an assist on a Jochen Hecht goal at 3:02 of the third period.

The next season, Weber played 42 games for the Portland Pirates, as well as 7 games for the Sabres, in which he tallied 19 penalty minutes but struggled to get on the scoreboard with no points.

Weber saw no NHL action in 2009-2010 season as he played 80 games for the Pirates and attained 153 penalty minutes, good for second on the team. His five goals and 16 assists left him with a plus-18 rating that season, which seemed to be enough to prove to the Sabres management that Weber was ready for the NHL.

Soon enough, 2010 training camp came around. His other numbers worn with the Sabres – #34 and #4 – were taken by defensemen Chris Butler and Steve Montador, respectfully, so Weber adopted #6, the number he previously wore with the Spitfires.

Throughout camp, the question remained: would the team keep Weber up for the start of the season? And yes, that they did. Although he struggled to secure a lineup spot for the first two months of the season thanks to an overcrowded D, once December came around, Weber was suiting up for nearly every game.

Weber accomplished several memorable NHL feats this season. Not only was it his first full season with the team, he also scored his first NHL goal. On December 28, 2010, Weber scored not once, but twice, and also added an assist as he was named the first star of the game.

December 11th was the day that made a lot more NHL fans take notice of Mike Weber – the infamous day where he ‘roughed it up’ with none other than Sidney Crosby, proving once and for all that he’s a tough guy not afraid to stand up for himself and his teammates. This season was also the first time Weber was permitted to suit up in an NHL playoff game – seven of them, in fact, as he played in every Sabres playoff game in the postseason.

He ended the season with four goals, 13 assists and 17 points in 58 games, all career highs, and he should add another full NHL season to his resume this year.

Number six is here to stay, folks – so take notice.

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